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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Exxon profits triple
Soldier in Iraqi oilfields
The Iraq war has lifted oil prices

Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest oil company, has announced a threefold jump in profits, crediting a sharp rise in global crude oil prices

The company said pre-tax profits for the first three months of 2003 came in at $7.04bn (4.4bn ; EUR6.3bn), up from $2.1bn dollars during the same period last year.

The result was Exxon's best ever over three months, beating its previous record of $5.2bn in the final quarter of 2001.

Shares in Exxon - which sells fuel under the Esso brand - were up 1.3% at $35.66 in early trade on Wall Street.

Supply uncertainty

The company's strong performance reflected a recent rally in crude oil prices amid fears that the war in Iraq, an oil workers' strike in Venezuela, and civil unrest in Nigeria would disrupt global supplies.

Exxon's bottom line received a further boost from the sale of its stake in German natural gas distributor Ruhrgas AG.

Exxon's revenues for the first three months of the year also rose sharply, climbing to $63.8bn from $43.4bn one year ago.

Other oil companies have also benefited from the rally in world oil prices, with the UK's BP unveiling a record first-quarter profit of $3.7bn earlier this week.

However, world oil prices are expected to fall in the months ahead as Iraqi output returns to normal, taking some of the shine off the oil sector's financial results.

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